Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cycling the Kula Highway

We got back on our bikes yesterday, driving to near Makawao, then setting off from there up the Kula Highway. We had ridden the first five or six miles of this route the other day, but the rest of it was new to us.

It is amazing to see the difference between the "upcountry" and the resort areas down along the coast. As we cycled through the first part of the ride, the thought came to me that I could easily be in the rolling hills of eastern Ohio, with the farmland, the fields and the intense greenery. Of course, the vegetation is different, but the feel is the same.

Taking a picture of nasturtiums alongside the road. Butterflies were all over the place in this section of the ride.

Then, when we passed Kula's answer to a convenience store (pictured below), we entered what we dubbed "the Shire." Suddenly, after passing through some forested "borderlands,"we felt like we could be somewhere in Tolkien's Shire, or in Wales or Ireland, with intensely green fields and meadows and lava rock walls that brought to mind the stone fences of the British Isles.

A selfie I took while riding.

This was also a very challenging part of the ride because it was quite hilly. Not big hills, but up and down and up and down. 

The biggest climb, as the graph above shows, was climbing to the Kula convenience store. However, it was a very gradual climb and not taxing at all. It was the stuff in between that was the most challenging for me, especially when we were on our way back through the Shire. By then, the temperature had risen and there was no breeze, let alone wind. It became very hot. I was surprised, yet not surprised to look at the temperature chart for the ride (below).

View toward the ocean as we passed out of the Shire

Beyond the Shire, the landscape became very different. Lots of lava rock fields, barren, windswept, strong winds. This is where Mark took the lead photo, above.

We turned around at the 20-mile mark and headed back, stopping for a bite to eat at small deli alongside the road before entering the Shire. This trip back through the Shire was taxing. It was interesting to look at the temperature chart and see that it climbed almost 20 degrees while re-crossing the Shire. I was suddenly sweating like crazy and could really feel the heat. 

When we got back to the Kula convenience store, I needed to cool down. Mark rode ahead while I sat outside the store for 10 minutes or so. Refreshed, I then took off, and it was pretty much downhill all the way.

When we got back to the car, a fellow pulled up alongside and started up a conversation, asking if we were runners, where we were from, etc. He introduced himself as "Spinner," and it was immediately obvious that he was a bit eccentric, another Maui character. But quite friendly. He proceeded to tell us that there would be a sunrise Easter service in the field next to us at 6:00 the next day and invited us to attend. We politely declined.

Spinner smiled and wished us a Happy Easter, and then pulled on into the field next to us. Then he walked back over to us and started up another conversation, telling us that he had been involved in his own HIV-awareness "ministry" for 30 years. You never know the stories that lie behind human faces.

Spinner. What a happy guy.

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